Ever wish your students were more motivated? If you’re like most of us, you have tried an array of rewards and punishments to motivate kids. There’s only one problem: it doesn’t work. At least it doesn't work well enough. People (yes, even students) aren’t motivated from the outside so rewards and punishments only work to a point. We are internally motivated. That’s why it's essential to engage and inspire students to be motivated to succeed in school (and life.)

If you’re ready to move beyond the reward/punishment model and embrace a whole new way to understand motivation, I encourage you to come back regularly. It’s time to challenge the status quo and create schools and classrooms based on what really motivates behavior.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"My Daughter Can Be A Bit Of A Bully. Any Suggestions?"

A parent recently sent me the following: "My daughter can be a bit of a bully at times. When she plays games with friends if she doesn't get her way, she gets real bossy. I can tell from her friends' faces that this really annoys them. I can't get my daughter to change her behavior and want to help her before she loses these friends. Suggestions?"

Parents who observe their kids being bossy or bullying understandably become frustrated. “There’s absolutely no reason for them to behave like that!” they’ll say to me. My first reminder to parents is that all behavior – even unattractive behavior like bossing and bullying – is purposeful. While it’s not the behavior you want to see from your child, they are acting that way for a reason. Typically it’s connected to the universal need for power or freedom. Kids who boss or bully often gain a measure of power and control, at least temporarily. If you’re faced with this situation, determine some other, more appropriate ways your child can meet the needs for power and freedom. For example, yet can let them decide which one of three activities you’ll do together as a family this weekend. Or which one of three meals you’ll have for dinner. Or whether to do their homework before dinner or after dinner. If you’re really adventurous, you might even let them control the clicker when you watch television together! What’s important is that your child feels that sometimes they get to be the boss. When kids meet their needs for power and freedom by doing things that you sanction, they’ll be less driven to satisfy those needs through inappropriate behaviors like bossing and bullying. Just as kids who are given one or two cookies after dinner are less likely to gorge themselves on the whole box when no one is looking, kids who regularly satisfy the needs for power and freedom responsibly and respectfully are less likely to resort to bossing and bullying.

Note: This was originally published by Funderstanding. Their newsletter is free and includes interesting, useful ideas for both educators and parents. I encourage you to subscribe.

As always, if you enjoyed this and found it useful, please send the link to your friends. Thanks.

Bob Sullo

For information about books by Bob Sullo and to schedule a keynote, workshop, or series for your school, agency, or parent group visit www.internalmotivation.net

Don't forget to get your copy of the revised edition of The Inspiring Teacher: Making A Positive Difference In Students' Lives.


  1. This is most occurred problem. But i too thinks that parents should be proud of such behavior. Because, according to me it is the base of quality what we call 'leadership'

  2. This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.
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